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Duwamish Longhouse a venue for cultural events in Seattle

SEATTLE – The first longhouse to grace Seattle since the 1890s is emerging as a major venue for cultural events in the Seattle area.

The Duwamish Tribe opened the longhouse and cultural center Jan. 3. It is located near the mouth of the Duwamish River overlooking the Duwamish River Valley, near the ancient Duwamish village hah-AH-poos. It is a traditional cedar post and beam structure designed in collaboration between the Duwamish Tribe and project architect Byron Barnes, Blackfeet.

Duwamish immediately launched its “Duwamish Longhouse Presents” series, with 15 cultural presentations between January and May. Among them: A world premiere of “Angeline,” a documentary film on the life of Chief Seattle’s daughter; exhibits by Mary Lou Slaughter, Duwamish master weaver, and Michael Halady, Duwamish master carver; and performances by Tlingit actor Gene Tagaban, Lummi violinist Swil Kanim, and Yaqui flutist Peter Ali.

The longhouse and cultural center hosted Chairwoman Cecile Hansen’s “Fry Bread for Justice,” a benefit for Duwamish’s legal defense fund, March 21, April 4 and May 9. The Duwamish, whose leader, Sealth, was the first signer of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, are fighting for recognition by the U.S. government.

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On June 13, from 4 – 8:30 p.m., the longhouse and cultural center will host the annual Duwamish Tribe Gala Dinner & Art Auction. There will be traditional song and dance, a traditional feast, and a live auction of art from Northwest Native artists such as Marvin Oliver and Preston Singletary. Proceeds will benefit Duwamish Tribal Services, which provides critical support to nearly 600 tribal members.

– Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at